Wilmington designer Thomas Miller has some advice for young wannabes - Technical.ly Delaware

Creative

Jul. 23, 2015 12:45 pm

Wilmington designer Thomas Miller has some advice for young wannabes

“All my real design education comes from being around other designers,” said Miller, who urges young designers to do their own thing early on.
Thomas Miller.

Thomas Miller.

(Photo by Tony Abraham)

Born and raised in a rough part of Pittsburgh, Pa., Thomas Miller has always had creative juices flowing through his veins. Whether it was drawing, cooking or writing poetry, he would seize any opportunity he had to express that creativity.

“I had a habit of drawing murals in my house,” the Wilmington Design Co. founder said. It was more out of necessity than anything else — growing up, Miller never had the leisure time or money to take up fine art. He was working to support himself by age 14, all while going to school.

Around age 22, Miller moved to Lancaster, Pa., where he met his wife. Not long after, he decided to go to school for design. He put in a year at ITT Technical Institute before heading back to work again — this time as a bouncer at a bar. But that thirst for creative expression still lingered.

"Don't be afraid to have conversations with people about your work, especially in a community like this that's still young."
Thomas Miller, Wilmington Design Co.

“I would beg the bartender to let me design the fliers,” he said. Eventually, the bartender caved. That seemingly small gig proved to be Miller’s launching pad for a career in design, with barely any formal education under his belt.

“My real design education comes from being around other designers,” he said.

Designing that flier was just over a decade ago. Since 2007, Miller has held design jobs at Adventure Media Group, Parcels, Inc., DMG Marketing and Legist Media doing what he calls “blue work” — very clinical, process-driven design.

“I needed to delve into a more creative space,” he said.

To scratch that itch, Miller founded Wilmington Design Co. last year. His first client? AAA. “It was my first major marketing experience with a nationally-known identity,” Miller said. Yet, even with his own company, Miller was struggling with the creative ceiling his clients held over his head.

Now, while he still freelances as a “supplement,” Miller recently took a gig as Longwood Gardens’ in-house graphic designer. At Longwood, Miller said he has the ability to properly flex his creative capacity, “working for artists as an artist” — which, according to him, is something most working designers don’t have the luxury of saying.

Advertisement

“What I don’t see a ton of [in the design world] is art for art’s sake,” he said. “I think a lot of people confuse designers for stylizers — people who make things pretty. You can never get away from the idea that you are trying to sell somebody something.”

Young designers who want to avoid some of that should “start doing their own thing early,” he said. The best way to do that?

“Become a production designer at one point or another and get acclimated to your application,” Miller said. “Keyboard shortcuts are your friend.”

Above all, Miller said aspiring designers should voluntarily place themselves in a creative environment.

“Try to be around creatives as much as possible. It takes many minds,” Miller said. “Don’t be afraid to have conversations with people about your work, especially in a community like this that’s still young. Creatives being around creatives makes everybody better.”

You must appreciate accurate, relevant and productive community journalism.  Support this sort of work from professional reporters with seasoned editors.  Become a Technical.ly member for $12 per month
Companies: Longwood Gardens
-30-
BECOME A CONTRIBUTOR TO THE JOURNALISM FUND TO COMMENT
Already a contributor? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

Congratulations, graduates. Now begin your lifetime of learning

Hey, UD students: Technical.ly is offering media advice at Free Lunch Friday

What these technologists of color would tell their younger selves

SPONSORED

Delaware

Mastering the ‘halo effect’ in tech recruiting

Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Sr. Software Engineer

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Front End Engineer

Apply Now

Philadelphia, PA - Center City

Odessa

Business Architect

Apply Now

House Industries’ hand-lettering workshop teaches sought-after skill

5 things businesses do to wreck their chances of landing a big client

Tender Hearts is seeking a volunteer graphic designer

SPONSORED

Delaware

Verizon is looking for the brightest ideas on how to use its 5G technology

Offsite

Philadelphia Home

Social Media Catalyst

Apply Now

Baltimore, Brooklyn, D.C., Delaware, Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Software Engineer

Apply Now

Malvern, PA

Vanguard

Senior Front End Engineer – CX Journey Lab

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Delaware

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!